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Robert Coover Discusses His Early LIfe and Influences

Robert Coover, pioneer of experimental and electronic fiction, is celebrated for work that reinvents and reimagines the art of storytelling. He is the author of more than 25 books including the novels The Origin of Brunists (1966), which received the William Faulkner Award for best first novel; The Public Burning (1977), nominated for a National Book Award; and the story collection A Night at the Movies (1987), winner of the Rea Award.

His novel Huck Out West (2017) picks up where Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn leaves off – the moment when Huck and Tom Sawyer decide to escape “sivilization” and “light out for the Territory.” Following Huck as he rides shotgun with the Pony Express, mines for gold, and lives with the Lakota, the novel explores a formative period in American history, from the Civil War to the centennial year of 1876. In the West, it’s a time of grand adventure, but also one of greed, religious insanity, mass slaughter, virulent hatreds, widespread poverty and ignorance, ruthless military and civilian leadership, and huge disparities of wealth.

Robert Coover has taught at Brown University for over 30 years, where he established the International Writers Project, a program that provides an annual fellowship and safe haven to international writers who face harassment, imprisonment, and suppression of their work in their home countries. In 1990-91, he launched the world’s first hypertext fiction workshop, was one of the founders in 1999 of the Electronic Literature Organization, and in 2002 created CaveWriting, the first writing workshop in immersive virtual reality. In Spring 2018, W. W. Norton will publish a collection of Coover’s most recent short stories, several of which have appeared in The New Yorker.

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